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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 06:51 pm
Why You Should Not Handle Your Divorce Without an Attorney
Many divorces result from escalating arguments over money. For this reason, it may be tempting for couples to think that a cheap amicable divorce mediation process is the best solution. The team decided to file a few simple forms in court, making the second biggest mistake in life after the failed marriage.
Like most legal problems, the law is often pay-to-play and tilted in favor of the litigant with the bigger war chest. The law is riddled with loopholes and exceptions that can be easily overlooked by inept pro se litigants. The rules are evergrowing and complex because we live in a nation with a convoluted common law court system. In this system of jurisprudence, there is no clearly defined law, the various rules and statutes of themselves are further constructed and construed by the courts into the final word on any matter. Even then, there is some gray area of how the wisdom may apply to a novel situation.
If you haven’t spent a lifetime sifting through decisions for relevant rules and interpretations, you are vulnerable to great losses in cases involving child custody and major economic stakes. Reading websites online for specific tips is a waste of time. The informational blogs on those websites are typically not current nor complete. All laws are based upon locus jurisdiction and therefore diverse from state to state and even between courts and municipalities.
An established divorce lawyer can help you navigate this minefield and offer you peace of mind. The courts do not like working with litigants who represent themselves, those called pro se litigants, because they lack objectivity. Many pro se litigants mistakenly believe that their emotional arguments are what will convince the judge to rule in their favor on highly-technical legal issues (where emotional weight is irrelevant). Pro se litigants are not familiar with the rules and have a difficult time objectively focusing on the critical elements and issues of a case.
State courts generally hold pro se litigants to the same level of professional conduct as an attorney. This means that you will likely be given no breaks if you have not thoroughly researched an issue or formatted documents on time and correctly.
A divorce settlement is essentially a contract. Contracts are strictly construed. Therefore, if any element of the contract is unclear or open to interpretation, this leaves the possibility that a future lawsuit or argument may open up for breaching an ill-defined interpretation of terms. It is almost impossible to understand all of the elements involved in calculating child support. You may have two separate provisions, one mandated to cover basic care and another of additional expenses that are entirely discretionary. Alimony is also very confusing and may require the weighing of many complicated factors that examine the total history of the marriage and income. The split of assets in divorces is not always equal.
When a spouse overvalues or negates to mention certain assets, this can be opened up and reconsidered long after the divorce. It is a fraud perpetrated upon the court that may penalize the acting party and nullify any agreement. The custody issues with minor children are always riddled with exceptions and complicated analyses. The courts try to determine what is the best environment for the children and what the other spouse will provide and be allowed parental rights. Children respond best to structured, reliable encounters with distant parents after the divorce.
Another item pro se divorcees fail to consider is the separate costs of living after the divorce. The costs of housing and meals for recent divorcees may double. The time they once spent for mundane tasks such as laundry or child care may be consumed by a commute or a second job. It is important for couples to consider the real long-term costs of their separation before signing off on a price they cannot afford.
Ending a marriage can be a very ugly thing or something positive for which you have no regrets regarding. The simplest divorces are from short-term marriages where there are no child custody or estate issues involved. Only in this case, after consultation with an experienced attorney, will it be as simple as filing the proper forms in the court.